New Staff Spotlight: Micah Norman-Pace
Tell us about your background and why you care about expanding housing opportunities.
When I graduated with my last degree, I was encouraged by friends to get a job working at a shelter and housing organization in Boston as a stop-gap to whatever would be next. I quickly realized the importance of the work I was doing, and I relished the opportunity to help folks get into housing and see what a huge impact housing has on quality of life and other interrelated outcomes. In my time in housing, I’ve worked for a variety of permanent supportive housing programs, homelessness prevention programs, and most recently for the Housing Choice Voucher program at Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. My experiences have humanized the issues of housing and homelessness and motivated me to pursue systems change so that all people have the dignity and stability that housing can provide.
Why were you interested in joining Family Housing Fund?
My interest stems from a desire to move more upstream from the programs that I’ve worked for. Working for existing programs was great experience that I will carry with me, but for me, joining Family Housing Fund is about looking for the next innovation or the next improvement to housing systems. I also wanted to learn from the deep expertise at FHFund and grow in my knowledge of how to partner with government to change systems.
What housing aspirations do you have for the region?
My hope is that people interacting with our housing systems are able to choose between multiple good options that are sustainable and safe. Many times folks end up having to make tough choices between options that either cause trauma or are unsafe and unsustainable, leaving little real choice at all. I’d love to see a system that sets people up to make dignified decisions that work for their families.
What is one area where you think people generally fail to think big enough – and what is your vision for change?
I think a lot of great solutions come from thinking more locally and creating the conditions for that to be possible. I’m incredibly inspired by cooperative models for housing that not only create paths to financial stability, but also connect people and build a real communal safety net. I’m thinking of Mutual Aid groups that popped up during the pandemic, many of which were able to meet needs that our support systems couldn’t have addressed. How can we continue to shape housing to encourage collective power and support that is deeply local?
What do you do for fun?
In the warmer months I try to be outside as much as possible, whether biking, kayaking, or hiking. There’s a bird sanctuary close to my apartment where I get a lot of reading done. My wife, Kaci, and I have a goldendoodle that is obsessed with the snow. When indoors we like to do puzzles, watch basketball, and stay warm. We’re new to Minnesota and still in that adjusting-to-winter phase, which people tell me never quite ends.